Ok, I am pretty pumped about this. I’ve been working on this for the past few months and am very happy to see it coming to fruition. Earlier this week I got budget approval to go ahead with a textbook sprint.
In a nutshell, a textbook sprint is an intense 3-5 day event that brings together 6-8 authors to write a book. I wrote a post in November about our preliminary thinking around having a textbook sprint and last month posted some notes from a conversation I had with Erika Pearson about her textbook sprint at University of Otago in New Zealand last fall.
Now, coming out of a textbook sprint with a full textbook is the primary goal. But I have another equally important goal for the event, one that relates directly to the sustainability of an open textbook. I am hoping that the faculty who take part in the co-creation of the textbook emerge feeling a sense of ownership around what they have created in this intense burst of activity, and that this feeling of ownership translates into the beginnings of a community of practice going forward. Having this intense event act as the impetus which leads to stewardship of the textbook.
I’ll be writing more about the logistics of the event, but for now I am happy to say that Adam Hyde will be coming to facilitate the event. Adam has developed a methodology for book sprints & has completed over 70 book sprints resulting in a finished book every time. It’s an impressive track record.
Originally I gave a thought to facilitating the event myself. But after reading this article (PDF) from Phil Barker, Lorna M. Campbell and Martin Hawksey at Cetis in the U.K. who, along with Amber Thomas at the University of Warwick, worked with Adam on an OER-oriented book sprint I changed my mind. Specifically, this quote stuck in my head:
“It is my belief that Book Sprints succeed or fail based primarily on facilitation. I have seen sprints fail because of inexperienced facilitation by people who do not really understand what the process is and how all the issues come into play”
So I contacted Adam, and I am very happy I did. After speaking to Adam I was quite impressed with his thinking around what it takes to have a successful book sprint, and his thinking about the crucial role that an impartial facilitator plays in making sure the project gets done in the limited time allotted. He also understands the importance of positive group dynamics and creating an atmosphere of true collaboration in order to reach that goal we have of developing a community moving forward. And he seems like an interesting guy who I’d like to hang out with for a few days. I am really looking forward to learning from him.
The idea is we will bring together 6 faculty for 4 days in June, hunker down at
SFU Burnaby UBC Vancouver & bang out a credible, useable open textbook.
The dates we have are June 9-12 and the subject area we are going to concentrate on is 1st year Geography.
Geography is a broad discipline, so to help narrow the scope I spoke with with the head of the Geography articulation committee here in BC, Jim Bowers at Langara, to get a better sense as to where we should focus our efforts. After a bit of brainstorming, I think we are going to look at developing a regional Geography of Canada textbook. There are a couple of reasons for this focus.
- Regional Geography is a common 1st year course across institutions in B.C. so it would have broad appeal.
- Being that it is a Geography of Canada book, the textbook would have appeal outside of B.C. so we could create something that had value for other jurisdictions as well.
- We have an opportunity with the B.C. Open Textbook project to create something that is needed in our province (Geography is one of the top 40 subject areas identified in our early textbook needs analysis), but will probably not be picked up as a development project by any of the other major open textbook initiatives currently underway, such as OpenStax College or SUNY Open Textbooks. Those projects are primarily U.S. based projects and the development of a textbook so Canada specific will be of little interest to them. Unfortunately, the downside of choosing such a Canada specific project for the book sprint means that we are creating something that will probably have little interest for those projects in return, but I am confident that there are many other areas where our work will compliment each others.
- There are existing open Geography resources that I think we can draw on to help seed the book with content. When I look in SOLR (our repository of open content here in BC) I can find over 30 Geography resources listed there, including many full first year open Geography courses. This is content that has been created over the years by B.C. faculty funded by provincial OPDF funds, and I see this as an incredible opportunity for us to build and reuse open content that has already been created by B.C. Faculty.
Next steps now that the funding & logistics are in place is finding game faculty. If you know of any faculty who teach Geography in B.C. who might be game for a challenge, please direct them to this page on the open.bccampus.ca website, or have them contact me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Photo: Sprint Board by Rool Paap used under CC/ CC-BY license